CASTRIES, St. Lucia -- Soft-adventure packages are proving to be big sellers this winter in St. Lucia, according to tourism officials, who are optimistic that the regionwide tourism rebound is indeed a reality.

"Signs point to a steady season beyond this month and into the spring and summer," one hotelier said. "Many of us had strong holiday seasons that carried over into January, usually a slow period. We just have to keep the momentum going."

Hoteliers are proving creative this winter, adding novel features and package add-ons.

Anse Chastanet, for example, launched a Kool Kayaking Adventure, its first such venture using seagoing Prijon sea kayaks and trained guides.

The Prijon is a rigid kayak with handling similar to a fiberglass boat.

Rates for a daylong beginner class are $75 per person in a single-person boat and include two hours of instruction in the morning and a 90-minute kayak tour along the coast with guide in the afternoon. More experienced kayakers can opt for the afternoon tour only, at $39 per person in the single kayak or $59 for two in the two-seat kayak.

The resort's Kai Belte Spa now offers yoga, Pilates and stretch classes six days a week. The classes are free to guests.

Rates at Anse Chastanet through April 6 range from $455 to $795 per room, double, with breakfast and dinner; the range from April 7 to May 31 is $255 to $550 without meals. For details, visit www.ansechastanet.com.

St. James's Club, Morgan Bay has three new daylong eco packages that include a bike trip to Diamond Waterfalls, $50 per person; a drive tour of St. Lucia with swimming or snorkeling at Anse Cochon beach, $78; and a Jeep tour through the rain forest, a visit to the Soufriere drive-in volcano, a hike to the waterfalls and lunch at a fishing village, $50. For details, visit www.eliteislandresorts.com.

Ladera Resort hosts its second annual Astronomy Nights program March 13 to 20, featuring Derrick Pitts, Fels Planetarium director at the Franklin Institute Science Museum in Philadelphia. Pitts will guide guests through constellation viewings.

Rates begin at $395 per room, per night, double, and include a one-bedroom suite or villa accommodations, a sky-viewing book, a CD and a Milky Way or Cosmopolitan cocktail. Call (800) 917-0766 or visit www.ladera.com.

Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort pays 15% commission on a six-night package that features two meals a day and roundtrip transfers. Through April 18, rates start at $125 per person, per night, in an oceanview room and $170 in a one-bedroom villa.

New optional day trips this winter include a day-long Jeep and boat tour with a rain forest hike, a visit to Soufriere and a sunset cruise, priced at $250 for two, and three two-tank dives or four half-day snorkeling trips and sunset cruise, priced at $345 for two. For details, visit www.windjammer-landing.com.

To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].

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